AU dominates late to beat Loyola Maryland

Eagles overcome early struggles with key buckets from unlikely scoring options

AU dominates late to beat Loyola Maryland

Jade Edwards comes up the court during a Nov. 9, 2018 game against Tulsa.

This article has been updated with a correction. The game against Loyola took place on Jan. 22.

Despite faltering early, AU women’s basketball received scoring from several unlikely options to overpower the potent Loyola Maryland defense 63-44 on Jan. 22 in Bender Arena. While AU (7-10, 3-4 PL) led by just 1 point after three quarters, a 23-5 fourth-quarter performance ended Loyola’s (4-14, 1-5 PL) chance to steal one on the road.

“It took us 20 minutes to figure out how to operate the offense, we were a little out of sync,” said head coach Megan Gebbia. “Overall I think we had a pretty good second half since we haven’t been playing especially well in the second [this season].”

AU’s offense was clicking in the second half even with underwhelming production from sophomore guard Jade Edwards (5 points) and senior guard Kaitlyn Marenyi (0-5 from deep), both of whom have been tasked with carrying the offense this season. 

The offense was able to get over the hump thanks to stellar play from junior guard Indeya Sanders and sophomore guard Maddie Doring. Doring hit a pair of treys to keep the game within striking distance before Sanders laid in a last-second shot to give AU the lead.

“I try to come off the bench and do whatever I can for my team,” said Doring. “So if 11 points is what I have to bring, 11 points is what I have to bring.”

The typically pass-first Sanders finished with a double-double (18 points, 10 rebounds) and sprinkled in a few shifty handles to get to her spots on the floor. 

“I thought we did well adjusting to their defense,” said Sanders. “We started taking what they were giving us and taking better care of the ball in the second half … Since Kaitlyn and Jade weren't having their best scoring games, I knew the team needed me to step up.”

Despite only finishing with 8 points, senior guard Stephanie Karcz was clearly the standout player for Loyola. Karcz, who leads all of Division I with 6.1 steals per game, gave the Eagles’ interior offense fits throughout the first-half. While the Greyhounds found initial success, their offensive momentum proved to be short-lived. The Eagles began to double the Greyhounds in the post in the second half, forcing Loyola to pass into shots they stood no chance of converting. 

The Greyhounds are last in the Patriot League in 3-point percentage (28.7%) and went 1-11 from deep.

Despite the low score, Wednesday’s game was fast-paced, as both teams employed a full-court press for all four quarters. While the Greyhounds pressure forced several Eagle turnovers, it also opened up several outlet passes that the Eagles easily converted. AU pushed the pace, outscoring Loyola 24-7 on the fast break.

“Hustle plays [are what helped us win],” said Gebbia. “That's what Loyola brings. They beat everyone to loose balls … so when you get those offensive rebounds, those and-ones the momentum changes. Once we got the lead you could see the team felt comfortable.”

AU’s dynamic defensive effort and skilled free throw shooting ultimately sealed the game in the fourth. The Eagles converted 12 of their 13 free throws in the final frame and received a pair of chase-down blocks from Sanders and sophomore guard Emily Fisher.

AU will head north Saturday to face Colgate’s high-octane offense. The Raiders are expected to be one of the Eagles’ more challenging matchups this season.

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